A great headshot is one of the most important marketing tools for an actor to have. The old cliché is true: you never get a second chance to make a great first impression.
The best way to do that is with a great, high quality photo of your face. Not an iPhone pic. Not your Facebook profile. Not that summer vacation photo of you with the beach in the background. Those are great photos for your social media account, but it’s not the same as having a professional headshot.
Here’s what you need to keep in mind when it comes to your headshots:
1. The most important rule of headshots is to have one! When you walk out of an audition, the only thing that the casting director is going to have from you is a memory and some notes. He or she may also have 20+ more people to audition before the end of the day. If you don’t have a headshot and a resume to leave with them, you’re running a huge risk of not making the cut!
2. You get what you pay for. If you’re wondering whether to hire someone to do your photos or just get your mom to snap a photo in the front yard…. money. It really is worth it. Go to a professional photographer who understands lighting and how to create the right look. You will notice a massive difference in your photos than using ones that are taken by a friend who “knows a little bit about photography”.
3. Be yourself. Your picture needs to look like you. Don’t misrepresent what you look like. There’s a temptation to try to “look pretty”. But, if you show up at an audition and look different from your headshot, the casting director is going to be disappointed. Don’t try to hide who you are!
4. The look. The basic headshot is is shot from the chest up with good lighting on your face. Make sure you’re looking directly at the camera and that the focus is directly on your eyes. This is not the time to display your personality with strange hairstyles or facial expressions. No distracting backgrounds. The entire focus should be on you.
5. What to wear. Wear a simple, solid colored shirt. No stripes or bold patterns. Avoid white shirts as they can mess with the contrast of the photo and avoid solid black to avoid the “floating head” look when you pose against a dark background. Just a simple, classic look that doesn’t distract away from your face.
6. Don’t go overboard. There’s a tendency to want to go “all out” when you’re having a photo taken. Don’t do it. Your headshot should look like you look on your best “average” day (not a prom night, or a wedding day). Ladies, don’t go crazy with lots of makeup or a new hairstyle. Guys, consider putting on a bit of powder to take the shine off your face and get rid of redness. But, neither men or women should go overboard with make-up. You may wind up with headshots that look too fake.
7. Shop around. There are probably several photographers in your city who can assist you. Find one that understands headshots and how important they are. Look through their online portfolios and see what kind of work they do. You may be using these headshots for a few years so you want to make sure you get a result that you like.